Apartment Safety Off-Campus
Whether you are on campus or off, it is important to take steps to maximize your safety and your property’s security.
WUSTL-owned property is patrolled from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. by the Washington University Police Neighborhood Security Patrol. Blue light telephones in some neighborhoods ring directly to the police that serve that area.
If you identify a security concern at or around your apartment building, contact staff or your landlord immediately.
Examples of security concerns to watch out for include:
- Doors that won’t close
- Locks that don’t work
- Windows that won’t close and/or lock
- Lights that are burned out
Tips below to protect yourself in an off-campus apartment:
- Lock your door, even while you are at home.
- Use your door’s peephole before opening it to someone who knocks. If your apartment does not have a peephole, request one from your landlord.
- Don’t open your door to a stranger, including maintenance persons you don’t know. Verbally answering questions through the closed, locked door lets them know someone is at home. If someone says he or she is there to perform maintenance, call your landlord to confirm that work is scheduled to be done.
- Lock your windows, even while you are at home. If applicable, secure sliding glass doors; a drop bar prevents a sliding door from being opened from the outside.
- If your building is equipped with an intercom system, never “buzz” the door for anyone you do not know.
- Never prop open doors. If you see a door propped, close it.
- If you need to post your name on a mailbox or intercom system, list only a first initial and last name.
- Never “hide” a spare key outside. If you lose a key to your apartment, contact your landlord and ask for the locks to be changed.
- If you see a suspicious person or someone you don't believe should be in or around the building, call the police immediately.
If you’re going away for a long weekend or holiday break:
- Don’t advertise that you will be or are away. Never leave notes on your door, answering machine, or social networks that indicate you are out of town.
- Let a neighbor or friend know when you’ll be gone and when you plan to return.
- Close blinds and drapes. Leave a light and radio on, or set a timer.
- Stop your mail or newspaper, or arrange to have a neighbor or friend pick them up daily.
- Avoid leaving valuable items such as jewelry and expensive electronics.
If you arrive home to find that your apartment looks as if someone has entered, your door is ajar, you hear unusual sounds, or there are signs your apartment has been broken into, DON’T GO IN. Call police immediately.
When Using an Off-Campus Laundry Facility:
- Avoid using the laundromat in your apartment complex by yourself, especially at night. Team up with a neighbor or friend.
- Before entering the laundry area, check to make sure only persons you know or recognize are there.
- If someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable, leave the area and call police immediately.
- Keep the door to the laundry closed and locked. Never prop open the door, even for a short time.
- Carry a cell phone.
Choosing a Safe Place to Live Off Campus:
If you are considering living off campus, it is important to consider the security of prospective rentals before you decide on a place to live. WUPD developed a printable off-campus apartment safety checklist
to help you evaluate rentals with a prospective landlord. This checklist includes a series of yes/no questions you should ask to determine the general level of security that an apartment provides. Being able to answer “yes” to all of the checklist’s questions won't guarantee a completely worry-free setting, but choosing a rental that provides more positive answers can help reduce the potential that you will be the target of a burglary or other security problem in your rental property.
The Residential Life and Quadrangle Housing offices can also offer more information about safety while living off-campus.
For more information about maximizing your off-campus security or for a free home security survey, contact WUPD’s crime prevention specialist at (314) 935-5084.